Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko, a teen suffering from schizophrenia. He sleepwalks, hallucinates, and has a very short temper. He is also seeing a psychiatrist, which he visits during the week. It is here that Donnie shares his most personal and bizarre secrets. His family is very supportive, although he and his sisters tend to fight quite often, but his parents try to communicate with him in the best way that they can. His home life isn’t that bad, although sometimes, he feels totally abandoned by those around him, with the exception of this girlfriend, Gretchen, and a small group of friends.
Then one night, his life totally changes. He hears a voice calling for him in the night. He gets out of bed, and walks towards the front entrance of the house as the voice continues to beckon him. He walks outside, only to find a man-sized, demonic looking rabbit standing ominously in his front yard. The rabbit tells him that the world is going to end in twenty-eight days, six hours, forty-two minutes, and twelve seconds. Then, out of nowhere, a plane engine falls out of the sky, and crashes into Donnie’s house, right where his room would have been. No one knows how it got there. All they know is that had Donnie been in his room, he would have died.
From there on, Donnie’s new imaginary friend keeps reappearing. He shows him disturbing visions, and incessantly warns him about the future, telling him that he is the only hope for the survival of mankind. When he comes into contact with a strange woman named Roberta Sparrow, a former nun who has written a book entitled, “The Philosophy of Time Travel”, Donnie begins to weave his way through the labyrinth in which he now finds himself.
Is Donnie really supposed to be the savior of the world, or does this all exist within is head? Kelly wisely refuses to offer easy answers. Like the majority of great films, Donnie Darko requires you to think. If you are up for the challenge, by all means, see this film. One of the great things about Donnie Darko – and one of the many reasons that people keep returning to the world that Kelly has created here – is the sense of atmosphere. It takes place in Middlesex, VA in the eighties right around Halloween, and we latch on to that sense of mystery, and the fact that anything is possible. It is a wholly unpredictable and frightening ethereal masterpiece, one that demands multiple viewings and invites multiple interpretations, making it a deeply personal experience for each viewer. The performances are so authentic and sincere, and because of this, we are drawn to these characters. We deeply care for them, especially Donnie. This is one of Jake Gyllenhaal’s finest performances. He simply disappears into this character and makes us believe.
Donnie Darko has made quite an impact on audiences the world over. It has gained a strong cult following over the years, with dedicated fans who feel very strongly about the film. It is one of the greatest films to come along in a long time, one that stays with you forever. Personally speaking, it is one of my favorites and a film that I will never forget.
Watch the trailer in the SCREENING ROOM.